Restoring Poe for Students’ Sake

The following editorial letter is a hypothetical request to publish a new edition of Poe’s works:

This edition of “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” is contained in A Teacher’s Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, a new edition of Poe’s works that will restore lesser known texts to the classroom. With each decade, meritorious works are lost to the bottleneck effect of time, until readers are left with only a handful of authors and texts to represent an age. At the extreme end of this loss, consider how the Middle Ages is today represented by only Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and for the exceptionally avid reader, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. While this selection of studied works is limited by the number of works available from that time, today we face the same problem for the exact opposite reason: too many texts, discovered in daily in original publications and then uploaded to an overloaded web, leave a reader in a sea of texts without guidance. Publishers are also awash in this ocean, but they have a responsibility to find the texts worth saving and then anchor them to reliable annotation for future generations.

In this spirit of revival, this new textbook by Johnsen Publishing Company will help middle school and high school teachers to easily teach Poe texts they may not have encountered during their own studies. The Teacher’s Companion format is designed to give teachers contextual information, discussion questions, and student activities in a clear and concise manner. Oftentimes, these annotations are tied to in-text pictures, such as the discussion of female stereotypes and images of film adaptations that are pictured in the sample page below. Each page contains a facsimile of the student edition with added in-text citations and marginal annotations. For ease of use, in-text citations correspond numerically to both the annotations and the complete reference list at the end of the chapter. The elongated form of this textbook (7.25” by 10.5”) allows space for both the student text and the teacher annotations.

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In both the student and teacher edition, vocabulary words are printed in blue and be found in the glossary directly after the story. The glossary is sorted by page number rather than alphabetically to help students quickly define multiple words while reading. Differentiating difficult words by color helps to students to focus on new words rather than read over them unconsciously.

Other than these highlights and the annotations, this text remains unchanged from the 1856 edition of The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. This base-text was chosen for three reasons: It is little changed from the original manuscript. It is thought to contain the minor corrections made by Poe sometime between 1845 and 1849. And it will likely match other editions of the story if the teacher does not purchase student companion books from Johnsen Publishing Co.

The purpose of A Teacher’s Companion to Edgar Allan Poe is to equip teachers with enough resources such that they can teach a new text without additional curriculum preparation. As such, each story comes with companion activity sheets for students. The example sheet pictured below asks students to compare grammatical difference in two editions of “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”.

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Despite the quest to restore lesser known works, this edition will also include Poe’s most popular texts. These stories are worth reading and are necessary from a seller’s perspective. But with this new Teacher’s Companion, the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe will not be reduced to The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart for generations of students to come.



Poe texts:  “Edgar Allan Poe — “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Movie still pictured on left: The Mansion of Madness. Producciones Prisma, 1973. Film. YouTube. 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

Movie still pictured on right: Stonehearst Asylum Official Trailer #1. YouTube. N.p., 01 Aug. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

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